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The Australian novels from this author have a sound of strong validity and this family portrait of a Catholic family in Sydney --in which a younger daughter claims to have had visions of the Virgin Mary -- has a downright, believable claim. The Ponds, unpretentious, middleclass respectable, center their devotion on their youngest daughter, Geraldine, child of their older years. For Carrie and her daughter Ann live at home (Cliff turned away from Carrie when she would have no more children); Elva's religion (and her husband) commit her to a new baby before the youngest is weaned; Ivy's life as Sister Polycarp has made her able to look in from the outside at her parents' and her sisters' lives. Geraldine's claims bring the Church, the press and all the seekers of miracles, to hover over the family doings; bring Carrie and Ann back to Cliff; free Elva from the threat of her annual childbearing -- but also bring a final disillusionment and death to their father. The commonplace here -- Ann and her friendship with callow Bris, the awful Aunt Han, Mrs. Pond's smug assumption of superiority, the back and forth of daily living -- is insistent, as are the family bickerings, arguments, amiable constant friction --with its unquestioned love; the embarrassment of one who has special qualities has a definite place; and the religious-family issues are a rightful accompaniment to the whole picture. Not always as precise in its styling, the story depends on behavior that is true in pitch and picture.

Publisher: Doubleday